President Donald Ramotar yesterday met with the heads of the country’s security forces and urged them to get on top of the crime situation.
Stabroek News was unable to ascertain what prompted the meeting. It is suspected though that it may have to do with the country’s escalating murder rate and incidents of gun-related crimes.
A press release from the Government Information Agency (GINA) last evening said that Ramotar met with Chief of Staff of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) Brigadier Mark Phillips and Commissioner (ag) of the Guyana Police Force Seelall Persaud at the Office of the President.
The release said that the Head of State discussed the current state of affairs with regards to crime. Secretary of the Defence Board Dr. Roger Luncheon was also at the meeting.
The president’s plea to the duo suggests that he is concerned about the country’s crime and security and sees it as an urgent enough issue to meet with the heads of the security forces.
This meeting came just a few days after Guyana was cited for its high murder rate and despite the police having unveiled an elaborate plan to fight crime during the Christmas season.
In the Global Status Report on Violence Prevention 2014 compiled by the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Development Programme, and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Guyana was cited as having one of the highest homicide rates in the world with just over 20 deaths per 100,000 of the country’s population. It was listed as the 16th most homicidal country globally.
The report which pointed out that Latin America is the most murderous region in the world said that Guyana’s estimated rate of homicide per 100 000 of the population was 20.2 persons for 2012.
Though the police force has reported a decrease in crime as at the end of November this year, there is still concerns in other areas relating to gun possession and gun crimes. According to the police a total of 127 murders were recorded at the end of November 2014 in comparison to 133 murders for the same period in 2013, a decrease of 5%.
Since the police unveiled its Christmas policing plan there have been a number of hair-raising murders and robberies.
‘A’ Division Commander Clifton Hicken in addressing the media had said that the Christmas plan will target crime, traffic congestion and road accidents. The GPF, he said, intended to police major hot spots and provide a safe and secure environment for citizens, visitors and shoppers. It was also announced that there will be an increase in vehicular and foot patrols particularly in Georgetown.
There have been cases of persons being robbed in board daylight while conducting business in the city inclusive of a woman who was shot and wounded moments after she withdrew a small amount of cash from an ATM machine.
On December 8 five gunmen stormed Sterling Products Limited (SPL) in what has been described as a failed robbery during which security guard Wilfred Stewart, 45, was fatally shot and Mario Gohill, 31, an Indian national working as a chemist wounded. The invading bandits managed to make their way to the accounts department at the SPL Providence complex, where they were met with a locked safe. The men subsequently fled in a waiting car.
Police have so far been unable to apprehend any of the suspects and based on what this newspaper was told there has been no development in the case since the arrest and subsequent release of three men.
Days later a fugitive cop and a Prashad Nagar resident were shot dead when they committed an armed robbery on a supermarket at Montrose, East Coast Demerara.
Warren Blue who fled before he could be formally charged with the 2012 murder of Agricola youth Shaquille Grant was the first to be killed. This newspaper was told that he had traded shots with members of a private security firm which was in charge of security at the supermarket before being shot in the head.
About an hour later Mahendra Sukull who was hiding in the supermarket was cornered and shot dead by police. Police had said that the robbers had snatched $140,000 from the supermarket. It is suspected that at least two accomplices managed to escape in a waiting motor car. There is nothing to suggest that the stolen cash has been recovered.